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Running & racing in cold rain: What should I wear?

At my Outside Online blog I have shared clothing recommendations for racing in cold rain, inspired by the recent Boston Marathon during which runners endured 40-degree temps, a 10 to 20 mph headwind, and an inch or rain.

I wasn’t at Boston this year (or, fortuitously, Barkley, which also suffered from difficult weather), but I’m no stranger to these conditions. They can’t be entirely offset, but they can be managed.

Read now: The Definitive Guide to Running in the Rain

Outside does not allow comments, but you can comment here if you have suggestions, questions, or an experience to share.

8 Responses to Running & racing in cold rain: What should I wear?

  1. Rob April 25, 2018 at 8:17 am #

    I’ve run a couple of rainy marathons, including the Ogden marathon, which you stage in a literal cow pasture. I bought wastebasket liners and rubberbands to keep my shoes dry as long as possible, and a plastic dropcloth to sit on and drape over me. I dress for the temperature, and use a shell to keep warm.

    And men, take special care of your nipples. I’ve never seen so many bloody nipples as when it’s raining.

    Good advice. Thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka April 25, 2018 at 2:43 pm #

      I tape my nipples two or three times a week (when you’re running 15 hours per week, I have found it to be a necessity) and assumed this would be part of any pre-race routine, along with trimming toenails and pinning your bib. But a good reminder, thank you.

      Oh, on this topic, if you ever want some chuckles, search for “bloody nipples marathon.” It’s a very odd look.

  2. Jay April 25, 2018 at 12:03 pm #

    Lots of good thoughts here. For me the biggest problems in cold and cold/wet conditions are my hands, which even on long-ish runs with gloves sometimes never warm up, and my ears, which are always cold. So a polyester headband that covers my ears (a buff could work, too) and gloves. I also like those Defeet liners. I haven’t found something good to cover them with.

    Everything else is pretty interchangeable. A windjacket is a necessity, and I have a few that are all under 4 or 5 ounces, and honestly they all perform so similarly that there’s little worth in recommending one over the other. But anything waterproof or WPB is just going to get drenched inside with sweat in pretty short order in any temps above 25 or 30 degrees (my core tends to run pretty warm). I know I’m going to be soaked if it’s raining, so I just have to live with it.

    Cold rain is a hard thing to deal with. But for a training run it’s one of my favorite challenges. My family thinks I’m crazy, but I’ll often go out for an unscheduled training run if the weather’s bad because I love the challenge (plus there’s nothing like coming inside and taking a warm shower to get cleaned up and warm after one of those runs).

    • Andrew Skurka April 25, 2018 at 2:36 pm #

      Re shell gloves, you really need to check out the Showa 281 and 282. I suffer horribly with my hands, especially in wet conditions, and these are the best that I have found. I also use them regularly around the house for yard projects.

  3. Joe April 25, 2018 at 3:01 pm #

    Funny how different we humans are.

    I run in shorts into the low 20s.

    I switch from a T-shirt to a zip-up Capilene mid-weight at around 40. I add a fleece vest and light pants (I LOVE the new Patagonia Terrabonnes!) at around 20.

    Oh, and a fleece beanie below 40. I think the head is the most critical and most easily regulated overall warmth adjuster. Along with the hands.

    On a cold day, my hat goes on and off repeatedly. Quick, dramatically effective regulation.

    My legs and feet never get cold when I’m active, at least down into the teens.

    Light fleece gloves below 40, elkskin mittens with wool inner-mittens below 20. I hate cold hands. I’ve noticed that cold hands aren’t as much of a problem when I’m using trekking poles, though.

    Busy hands are happy hands, I reckon. 🙂

  4. Joe April 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm #

    Oh yeah….rain.

    I like my cagoule. It keeps my boys and my butt dry. I like that a lot.

    And my feet are gonna get wet anyway.

    I don’t own rain pants.

  5. Chris April 26, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

    One additional item that is useful in adverse conditions is a simple race belt for your bib. It allows you to remove/add jackets without covering up the bib. The Marathon Investigations website indicates that some runners experienced serious timing issues at Boston this year, including missing splits and even missing finishing times. Covering a bib increases the chance that your chip will not register. In addition, some races like UTMB require a bib to be always visible from the front – so it saves time changing upper body layers to have bib on a belt. Of course, the Naked Running Band that you mention in the article could probably serve the same purpose.

  6. Mark Turner April 27, 2018 at 12:49 pm #

    I must be the only one, or the only one that will admit it, that has gone back to childhood days off wearing socks on my hands. For me, mittens are better than gloves and I find myself pulling my thumb back into the finger sections of my mittens. One day when my wife was about to throw out some rag wool socks that were worn too thin for her feet, I grabbed them and never looked back.

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